It was never about playing in the I-League or Indian Super League (ISL) when he signed for East Bengal, says Gurtej Singh.
The six-foot tall defender admitted to Goal that he had an offer from Hyderabad FC when he signed for the Red and Golds toward the end of March this year.
"Whether in the I-League or ISL, I have signed for East Bengal club. Hyderabad were offering me an extension but I wanted to fulfil my dream of playing for East Bengal and for the trust that the officials showed in me," Singh said.
"East Bengal is such a big club. When I was a little boy, I used to go with my father to watch JCT's matches. Whenever we saw East Bengal visiting, it felt like a big club has come. From there itself I thought that I would love to play for East Bengal some day. I want to achieve a lot with East Bengal," he added.
The story of Gurtej making a come-back from the second division to the ISL could well continue with his current side's eminent entry in the ISL as East Bengal have picked up the bod papers to enter the ISL.
The 30-year-old has made 42 appearances in the ISL with FC Pune City (2017-2019) and Hyderabad FC (2019-20) and feels that his decision to quit from Bengaluru FC is the one that bore the fruits for him.
"My experience in the ISL has been very good so far. I have been playing continously (consistently) for three seasons now, with 42 appearances. Only at the beginning I was a bit nervous as I came directly from Fateh Hyderabad, from the second division. Eventually, with the experience and exposure, I got used to it.
"I played a few AFC Cup matches at Bengaluru and (then coach) Ashley Westwood wanted to sign me again but I felt that I got very little game time over there. So I discussed with my father and decided that I rather play at a lower division club than signing (for Bengaluru) and sitting out for another season," he explained.
Having won the I-League title with both Churchill Brothers (2012-13) and Bengaluru FC (2013-14), the former JCT player also targets to break into the Indian national team.
"I want to give my best to break into the Indian national team and the same time achieve whatever I can with East Bengal," he signed off.